FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Is Everyone Really Having Sex in College? Myths vs Facts

Sometimes it can feel like we are surrounded by media stories and images that tell us that college is all about having sex—from movies like American Pie to our popular music, there is a pervasive myth that ‘everyone’ is having sex in college.

However, we know that isn’t true! In Spring 2015, Student Wellness implemented an annual survey called the Needs Assessment on Sexual Health (NASH). The survey revealed that one in four students (both graduate and undergraduate) have never engaged in any sexual activity. The survey defined sexual activity as oral, vaginal, or anal sex—though there are lots of other sexual activities people engage in that fall outside these definitions!

One major take away from our survey is that a significant number of students of all genders aren’t having sex in college, for all sorts of reasons. Some reasons that students gave include preferring to wait until they are in a committed relationship (either long-term or marriage), not having found a partner to have sex with, and moral or religious/spiritual reasons. Other reasons people may not be having sex in college include not being interested in having sex at that point in time, being too busy, recovering from trauma, identifying as asexual, having a hard time meeting someone…the reasons are endless!

We also learned that 85% of students who took the survey said that they feel UNC is supportive of students who choose not to engage in sexual activity. In other words: it’s totally okay to not be having sex or to never have had sex.

Everyone has their own timeline around sex, and the decision to have sex should be centered around sexual readiness rather than societal or peer pressure to have sex. You might be wondering: what is sexual readiness? Sexual readiness is all about feeling physically and emotionally ready to have sex. Some questions people can ask around sexual readiness include:

  • Do you feel comfortable communicating with your partner (whether sexual or romantic) about your wants and needs? Do you feel safe and comfortable with that person?
  • Do you need to think about safer sex supplies and/or contraceptives? If so, do you know where to get condoms/dental dams or contraception? (Hint: the Student Wellness office and the Student Union always have safer sex supplies and you can make an appointment at Campus Health to get a prescription for contraceptives!)
  • Are you educated on how to avoid any unwanted outcomes, such as unwanted pregnancy or STIs?

For more questions to check your sexual readiness, check out this article to learn more. You can also make a free appointment with Student Wellness to talk with a trained staff member about sexual health and sexual readiness by calling 919. 962.WELL (9355) or emailing LetsTalkAboutIt@unc.edu.

Sexual Health Appointments, UNC Student Wellness
Sexual Health Appointments, UNC Student Wellness

Shifting the focus to sexual readiness can be a hard concept to grasp when our society sends mixed messages about sex. There is both a pressure to wait until marriage to have sex as well as pressure to ‘lose one’s virginity.’ But did you know that virginity is not a medical term and that there isn’t an actual medical definition for virginity?

Furthermore, sex means different things to different people. A person can engage in oral sex and still consider themselves a virgin, while for another person engaging in oral sex means having sex. Our cultural understanding of sex tends to be heteronormative, focusing on sex as meaning ‘penis and vagina,’ though we know that there are lots of ways people of all sexual orientations have sex that don’t include this definition.

Because society often promotes unhealthy messages and meanings of ‘virginity’ and ‘sex,’ it’s up to us to understand the context of where these words come from and to find out what they mean to us. People’s personal worth is not based on whether or not they have had sex. Let’s shift the narrative to supporting people to make decisions about their sexual choices around sexual readiness and personal values on sex, rather than feeling pressured by the many messages we get from media and society about sex.


Amee Wurzburg is the Sexual Violence Prevention Program Manager at Student Wellness. She is currently earning her Masters in Public Health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC. Amee received her BA in History from Barnard College of Columbia University. Before moving to North Carolina, Amee worked at an organization in India focused on HIV, where she worked on projects related to rights-violations, LGBTQ health, and domestic violence.


WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Debunking Five Myths About Yoga in Celebration of National Yoga Month!

This blog post was written by Emily Wheeler and is published as a part of our blog exchange with Campus Rec blog Tar Heel Tone-Up.

September is National Yoga Month! Not every form of exercise gets its own month of recognition, but yoga is not just any old exercise class. Yoga is simultaneous exercise of the body and mind and has the incredible ability to bring many people peace, direction, and balance in their lives. Many people have plenty of misconceptions about yoga, depending on what they have seen or heard about it. Here are five myths that I’ve heard plenty of people repeat about yoga:

  1. Yoga is boring; it isn’t real exercise

First of all, there are various types of yoga that range from slow and meditative to quick-paced power classes that will have you sweating in minutes. A nice thing about yoga is that you can find what you’re looking for, and some people come to yoga for exercise and some do not. Some individuals really enjoy the slow-paced classes as more of a mental experience than a physical form of exercise, and for those people, it’s not boring at all—it serves a purpose. Others really enjoy higher intensity yoga and some even use it exclusively as exercise, and there are plenty of classes to serve that purpose as well.

I have a friend who is an avid swimmer and claimed that he didn’t think yoga was “real exercise” once, so I invited him to a power yoga class with me and he was literally dripping sweat onto his mat halfway through the class. He started coming to that class regularly to improve his strength and flexibility in between swim practices.

  1. You can only do yoga if you can afford to attend classes at an expensive studio

It is certainly true that practicing yoga in a privately owned studio can be expensive, but yoga doesn’t have to be exclusive to a certain few who can afford it. Yoga can be done at home on a mat in your living room using a DVD or countless online videos as guidance. Some people even begin to practice yoga on their own without any instruction after gaining enough experience. If you like the feeling of community and encouragement that comes from doing a class together with others, UNC Campus Recreation offers free group fitness yoga classes to all students and employees with memberships every week. You can even do yoga outside for a fun new experience and some literal fresh air.

This photo was taken on August 29 at a free outdoor yoga class that was held in the Forest Theater on Country Club Road, on the border of UNC’s campus. The class was offered by Franklin Street Yoga Center, and in honor of National Yoga Month, they are offering a free week of yoga during the month of September for any group, club, or organization that is interested. You can contact them directly to take advantage of this amazing opportunity!
  1. Yoga is for hippies

First of all, what does that even mean? “Hippie” is a word from the 70’s in my mind. Yoga is for people who want something that will help them to improve their health (mental and physical), physical strength, focus, and that gives them an opportunity to step away from the stress of everyday life. From the many people I have met at yoga classes, yoga is for men, women, teachers, physicians, fitness instructors, that kid you met at the bus stop yesterday, stay-at-home moms, and ridiculously busy college students. To me, yoga is for absolutely everyone who is willing to try it.

  1. You have to be thin and flexible to do yoga

Movies, TV shows, and magazines have this great ability to convince people that only tall, thin, impossibly beautiful women do yoga. However, if you walk into a real yoga class you find real people: people of all shapes and sizes and ages and backgrounds who have come to practice yoga for any of a huge variety of reasons. Most REAL people are not very flexible when they start doing yoga. That flexibility comes and improves with a significant amount of time and practice. You also don’t need to fall into a specific body type category to be fantastic at yoga. And the good news is, you don’t actually have to be fantastic at yoga at all! Real yoga classes are made of real people who shake and wobble and fall down and try again.

  1. Only women do yoga

I think there are plenty of reasons why you usually see more women in yoga classes than men: many men feel that to be “manly” they should exercise in a weight room, or that yoga will be considered “feminine” by other men, or simply because women have been shown to pay more attention to their physical and mental health needs than men. However, I did say that there are typically less men than women in yoga classes, but there are not zero men. There are plenty of men who have had the courage to try yoga and have realized that it really is for everyone, and I personally admire the many men who are far more advanced at yoga than me.

If you’ve never tried it before, I encourage you to try yoga without any preconceived notions and an openness to a new experience. You might find yourself on the way to reaching a little haven of peace, health, and balance that you never even know you need in your life until you find it.